A pastor in Bellevue, Nebraska, is set to receive a kidney donation that will save his life in what he believes is an act of divine intervention.
Pastor Walter Hooker, senior associate pastor of Bellevue Christian Center in Nebraska, suffers from “end-stage kidney disease” in which kidney function is typically 10 percent or less, according to Dr. Scott Westphal, a transplant nephrologist with the Nebraska Medical Center. But kidney replacement patients in some parts of the country have to wait eight to 10 years before finding a successfully matched donor, with the average wait time in Nebraska three years or more.
“I’ve got some good news for you,” the pastor told the congregation earlier this month. “Many of you have been praying for me … asking God to give me strength—to give me a new kidney, whether it’s by a miracle or through someone else.”
After only six months on the center’s kidney transplant list, Hooker is now scheduled to receive a kidney August 2. And the donor is Andy Kaup, lead pastor of their church.
Kaup talked over the decision to donate with his family and they decided it’s what he needed to do.
When the two pastors discovered that both have O positive blood, the first of several crucial steps in determining whether kidney donation would be successful, Hooker said, “We just started laughing, not thinking anything about it because I mean, it’s no way he and I were gonna match.
“Andy and I throughout this process tried not to get ahead of God but would dare imagine, ‘What if God would use him to give me a kidney?’” Hooker wrote in a Facebook post that includes a video of his address to the congregation.
It was therefore nothing short of a miracle, Hooker said, that his kidney was perfectly matched with Kaup’s in such a relatively short time, especially in light of the high odds that the antibodies in their blood would reject each others’.
“We had to have the same tissue type,” said Hooker, “meaning we have tissue matches for 12 certain protein markers. We needed compatible blood types and my blood antibodies would react positively to Andy’s blood or organs. Everything was a perfect match. We are so overwhelmed and overjoyed with the love and sacrifice.”
The spiritual connection between the Hooker and Kaup families goes back decades. They went on a mission together in the 1990s and for years, Kaup’s mother served as Hooker’s executive assistant.
Hooker summed up their joy in discovering this new and life-saving connection: “This individual that God selected for me, God said this guy is perfect for you.”
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